Cartoon: Politicizing Tragedy


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The topic that’s been on everyone’s minds this month.

It so often feels like there’s nothing to say… The country goes through unendurable tragedy after unendurable tragedy. But a significant portion of the country (a third? a quarter? Enough to act as a veto on the rest of us) will accept any number of shootings, even shootings of children, as long as they can keep their guns and even assault rifles nearly unregulated.

It’s one of those issues (and there are more and more of them lately) which makes me feel as if there might not be a point to discussion with the opposition at all.

Meanwhile, the clown-in-chief blarbles that if he had been there, he would have run into the school, unarmed, to rescue the kids. It’s hard to imagine a less intelligent, more off-key response. I genuinely feel betrayed that almost half the voters in this country decided that Trump should be President.

Artwise, I’m really enjoying this new coloring approach, so I hope you guys like it! I’m fond of the art in this one, especially the full-figures in the first and last panels. I should do more full-figure panels – they look really nice, especially with big-head characters, and allow for a lot of expressive body language.


TRANSCRIPT

PANEL 1
A man and a woman stand in a field. From off-panel, there is the sound of gunfire – “Bang! Bang! Bang!”
WOMAN: Oh God. There’s another mass shooting! We need gun control laws!
MAN: You ghoul! Stop politicizing tragedy!

PANEL 2
The man pontificates, fingertips of one hand on his breast, the other hand pointing off into the distance.
MAN: We have to wait a respectful amount of time…

PANEL 3
The woman’s arms are akimbo, looking impatient. The man holds up one hand in a “wait” gesture, while looking at a watch on his other wrist.
WOMAN: Okay, NOW can we talk about gun control?
MAN: Just a moment….
MAN (small print to indicate something mumbled to himself): C’mon, c’mon…

PANEL 4
The woman jumps, suprrised by a new round of gunfire from off panel. BANG! BANG! BANG! The man speaks, looking very self-satisfied.
MAN: What a shame. Looks like we can’t discuss it now, either.

KICKER PANEL AT BOTTOM:
MAN: I’m not the one who makes up the rules.
WOMAN: Yes you are!

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38 Responses to Cartoon: Politicizing Tragedy

  1. 1
    RonF says:

    Oh, heck, I think it’s a fine time to talk about what causes mass shootings of this nature and what should be done about it. But when I was invited by my priest to go to the “March for Lives” demonstration, I declined. Was it because I was unconcerned about the issue? No, not at all. But I think that the solution that the organizers want the government to adopt would be ineffective. I also think that should I dare voice it within such a crowd I stand a small but finite chance of being assaulted, as apparently some kids were during the school walkouts.

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  4. 2
    Kate says:

    I also think that should I dare voice it within such a crowd I stand a small but finite chance of being assaulted, as apparently some kids were during the school walkouts.

    FFS, we all stand a “small but finite chance of being assaulted” every minute of every day. Do you have any reason to tar this whole movement as intolerant of other viewpoints and potentially violent beyond a couple of anecdotes that you fail to even link to?

  5. 3
    Kate says:

    These are the only two incidents I’ve been able to find of anti-gun protests getting out of hand. No injuries. Some property damage in one case.
    Stockton, CA
    Pro-gun protesters damage cars – at least five students arrested. “Turned rowdy” seems like an understatement, given the damage to cars.
    Nashville, TN
    Throwing water bottles, tearing down a flag. No one hurt, no property damage reported. It seems a bit much to say that this “turned violent”.

    These are the cases of anti-regulation advocates making threats against anti-gun protesters. I find both of these cases more worrying than the above. [eta – actually, upon reflection, the damaged cars in Stockton, CA are equally worrying to me]
    Rocky Point, NY
    gun safety side – students suspended for walking out of school
    pro-gun side – man escorted out of meeting and let free after pulling a knife on a 17 year-old girl
    Columbia, SC
    Morgan Roof (sister of Dylan) posts racially charged rant, hoping protesters get shot. Two other students arrested for bringing weapons to school. A gun found on school grounds.

    Given the thousands of people protesting, and the level of emotion, I think we’re doing pretty well on both sides so far.

    I also think that should I dare voice it within such a crowd I stand a small but finite chance of being assaulted, as apparently some kids were during the school walkouts.

    Ron, if you can’t find actual links to anti-gun protesters assaulting pro-gun advocates, I think you should retract your accusation.

  6. 4
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    Ugh, this feels like the earlier conversation about realistically assessing the threat of Islamists in America, except now we’re worrying about high school protesters assaulting people- a danger even more remote.

    FWIW, though, I found an incident (but only one) of an assault almost immediately googling “student walkout assault.”

    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2018/03/16/student-with-trump-flag-assaulted-by-mob-during-national-school-walkout.html

    I think way too many people exaggerate risk. What’s worse is that calling people out for it is sort of tabooed. Telling people their fear is based on a completely twisted model of the world is frowned upon almost everywhere and barely ever works. “Are you telling me how to feel? You monster!”

  7. 5
    Kate says:

    I didn’t use “walkout”, but I did google “2018 protest turns violent fox”. So, I’m not sure why that didn’t show up. I guess Ron is right to stay home in fear for his life.

  8. 6
    RonF says:

    If you don’t like Fox News, here’s a report on the Minnesota assault from CBS:

    Minneapolis police say no arrests have been made after a student carrying a flag with the word “Trump” on it was assaulted outside of Southwest High School.

    Police say the altercation happened while students were outside of the building during National School Walkout Day Wednesday morning.

    As students were observing a moment of silence, two students confronted the flag-bearing student across the street from campus.

    Six other students joined in the confrontation, taking away his flag, damaging his camera and inflicting minor injuries.

    Police say a school resource officer intervened, and is investigating the attack.

  9. 7
    RonF says:

    So; I’m all in favor of there being no particular age limit on exercising one’s First Amendment rights. However, I don’t think that public schools should countenance sacrificing instructional time for that purpose, never mind (as has been alleged but I will not say has been proven) spending money on facilitating such protests through teachers assisting organizing such protests, schools providing buses, etc. It seems to me that it leads to asking, as the teacher in this link led her students to discuss, what other causes would get cooperation from school districts (at the minimum forgiving students’ truancy). Who gets to make the call on which causes qualify or what number of students have to be involved before the school district goes along with not penalizing the students involved in it? What if 100 students wanted to take time during the day to walk out and hold a rally for a pro-life cause? Or to support the 2nd Amendment?

  10. 8
    RonF says:

    And, finally, here is a young woman who needs a better education. Her sign needs no explanation. The motto on her hoodie, however, is the response that the Spartan band gave to the Persian invaders when the latter demanded the former surrender their arms. It translates as “Come and get them” and you can buy T-shirts, hats, etc. emblazoned with that slogan at your favorite 2nd Amendment advocacy web site.

  11. 9
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    I’m with you, RonF, concerning the way some public schools sanctioned the protest. That’s not what school is for, period.

    Switching off my principled side, and turning on my political strategist side, I think that a pro-life walk-out is a no-brainer at the moment, at least at those schools that allowed/sanctioned the walkout. Any attempt to stop it could possibly result in a law suit, on the grounds that speech is being permitted/prohibited based on political content. But I can’t stress this enough: I really really really don’t want public schools to turn into this, and frankly, I’m annoyed at the short-sightedness of those who applaud that sort of thing. It’s all fun and games until there’s a walkout in Kansas because the biology department is teaching kids that they are the descendants of apes.

    By all means, kids, walk out. Now do some time in detention or Saturday school. It’s fair, but also education. Civil disobedience is powerful because the participants are willing to face the consequences.

  12. 10
    Kate says:

    I have the exact opposite view. I think students should be given excused absences to protest for causes that are important to them, provided they have parental permission. Yes, even pro-life and anti-evolution protests.
    I think that the country would be a better place if more students were politically active and I’d love to see public schools become places where students learn to discuss and debate issues in a civil manner, with the guidance of faculty who strive to maintain as neutral a position as possible, focus on providing safe space for those with minority viewpoints, and intervening with students who appear to be at risk of becoming violent.

  13. 11
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    I can see it now, a “BUILD THE WALL” walkout in a Texas school whose students are 10% Latin American. It would be a shit show. I realize Latin American children will soon be Latin American adults, and they’ll have to co-exist with real-life “BUILD THE WALL,” rallies, and then a real life “BUILD THE WALL” president, but we need to give students a chance to actually learn stuff in a healthy learning environment when they are young. Politics is fascinating but it’s undeniably mind-killing. Adults are downright cruel to each other over political differences, and students will be no better in a more politicized environment. (for the first time in my life, I’m seeing friends and family stop talking to each other over politics, including a father/son relationship in my own extended family. it sucks)

    I like the idea of kids learning about political activism, but I’m not sure an environment that couples the practice of activism with learning makes sense. Maybe such schools are OK for some students and Parents. I’m thinking of my district’s “alternative school,” a place where classes were loosely organized and students were expected to go out into the community/country/world as part of their education. It’s not for everyone and most parents don’t want their students to go there, but many did, enough that there was an application process and waiting list. When I was in highschool, a senior at the alternative school would have been expected to spend half their senior year outside the school, and doing political activism for 4 months would have counted towards their credit.

  14. 12
    Kate says:

    I can see it now, a “BUILD THE WALL” walkout in a Texas school whose students are 10% Latin American. It would be a shit show.

    Do you think it isn’t already a shit show for Latino students going to school with a bunch of racists? Do you think such a school is a healthy learning environment for Latino students now? All this would mean is that the racism would also become visible to people who have the privilege to ignore it. Maybe then the people who think Planned Parenthood is a bigger problem than Trump’s racist rhetoric would start to see that they are wrong.

    Politics is fascinating but it’s undeniably mind-killing.

    None of this is just politics. Debates on social justice, the best way to run a criminal justice system, gun policy, science…Done right, this is the exact opposite of “mind killing”. It can show students that the things they are studying at school – history, social studies, science…are actually relevant to their lives.

    for the first time in my life, I’m seeing friends and family stop talking to each other over politics, including a father/son relationship in my own extended family. it sucks

    I’m seeing this too. But it isn’t just “politics”. Trump supporters and the people who are vehemently opposed to him have fundamentally different values. This isn’t trivial, and it isn’t just tribalism. Telling people to shut up about it isn’t going to make it go away.

  15. 13
    sharon cullars says:

    and right on time, there’s been another school shooting this morning:

    https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/report-3-hurt-in-md-school-shooting-including-shooter/ar-BBKsWWG?li=BBnb7Kz

    this is beyond politics. this is a moral imperative.

  16. 14
    RonF says:

    Kate:

    I have the exact opposite view. I think students should be given excused absences to protest for causes that are important to them, provided they have parental permission. Yes, even pro-life and anti-evolution protests.

    My view is that school is for teaching kids math, science, arts, history, English, etc., and there’s already little enough time to do so. I realize these causes are important and we want to encourage kids to talk about them in a civil and logical fashion. But that does not tend to happen at protests. That would be a legitimate use of time during history or (perhaps) English class, especially if the teacher overcomes her or his own opinions and makes sure that there’s true diversity and civility. But to take the kids out of school entirely and blow a half day or a day at a protest where the time is going to be mostly spent either a) hearing a bunch of speakers speak on one side of an issue or b) socializing takes away from valuable instructional time. They can do that on their own time.

  17. 15
    RonF says:

    Love the way that people here seem to think that building a wall across our southern border is automatically racist.

    Jeffrey, here you go: Students plan Pro-Life walkout

    Here is a parent upset because sixth grade student were allowed to attend a gun control protest without notification to the parents. Seems to me the parents should be told about this first. In fact, it seems to me that the school should not even allow this for 6th grade students.

    Sharon, you’re quite right about that. We do need to do something about this kind of thing. Thank God that this particular school had the foresight to have someone on site who was properly armed and trained and had the courage to use both. Interesting that this is not getting nearly the national play that the Parkland shooting did, because it’s an excellent (although damned unfortunate) illustration of how differently this kind of thing can work out if the very thing that was suggested as a reaction to that shooting that is being decried or ridiculed by many as a bad idea – putting someone who is armed and trained into a school – is actually done. Of course, the most desirable thing would be to not have a need to do so, but that’s not something that legislation is going to stop.

  18. 16
    Harlequin says:

    Am I the only one here who knows multiple people who were excused from school–usually for more than one day, since travel was involved–to attend the March for Life in DC that happens every year? I find it very weird that “missing instruction time for political action” is being discussed like it’s some brand-new thing. (Somewhat different from a walkout, of course, since it’s the parents requesting the time. Otoh, in terms of missing school time, a 17-minute walkout is different from a multi-day vacation/political event.)

    RonF, your links are broken so I can’t see which event you’re talking about in particular, but I wanted to highlight this part of your argument in your last paragraph:

    Thank God that this particular school had the foresight to have someone on site who was properly armed and trained and had the courage to use both.

    I’m assuming “the courage to use both” is in there because Parkland did have a properly armed and trained officer. But to understand the impact of armed and trained individuals in schools, your model has to include armed and trained individuals sometimes not intervening (for reasons including, but not limited to, levels of courage) since that is a real thing that happens. Sure, if you could perfectly implement every policy you come up with, they’d all work! But the difficulty of implementation has to be part of the discussion.

    In any case, stopping live shooting incidents is really, really hard (eg some examples in point 3 of this Vox article). Prevention is a much better option.

  19. 17
    Kate says:

    I think Ron is thinking about the recent school shooting in Maryland. I have two points to make about that.
    1.) Two students were wounded. Jaelynn critically, in a way that may impact her for the rest of her life. I don’t consider that “excellent” in any way, shape or form. Nor do I consider it “unfortunate”. It is unacceptable, full stop. The fact that fewer students were injured than in Parkland doesn’t make this any less tragic for Jaelynn and her family.
    2.) The student was using a handgun. If he had an AR-15 it is possible that the gurad would not have been able to take on that superior fire power. Also, Jaelynn would almost certainlly be dead.

  20. 18
    Kate says:

    Jaelynn has been declared brian dead and is being taken off life support. http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/police-maryland-school-shooter-apparently-lovesick-teen-53924390

  21. 19
    Ampersand says:

    That sucks. Thanks for the update, Kate.

  22. 20
    Ampersand says:

    Ron, is there any case where a school shooting in the US in which one victim was killed (not counting the shooter) got as much news coverage as one in which seventeen victims were killed? I mean, you’re implying, I guess, some sort of conspiracy in which pro-gun-control journalists are saying “let’s not cover this story,” when there’s a much simpler and more obvious reason that Parkland got more coverage.

    (Incidentally, google news search currently returns over 300,000 results regarding the Maryland shooting.)

  23. 21
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    Kate:

    I’m seeing this too. But it isn’t just “politics”. Trump supporters and the people who are vehemently opposed to him have fundamentally different values. This isn’t trivial, and it isn’t just tribalism. Telling people to shut up about it isn’t going to make it go away.

    I get that, but when the objective is learning, being productive at work, or spending time with family, it’s probably worthwhile to taboo political disagreements as much as possible- not so much as a hard rule, but as a norm. Sanctioning protests is the polar opposite of this.

    If you disagree with my assertion that some spaces work better without politics, just take the Damore fiasco at google as an example. Whether or not there is any truth to Damore’s memo, google cannot have a public debate on it in their offices because the employees at google need to work together and foster an environment where as many employees as possible feel as comfortable as possible. Many women made it clear they didn’t want to work with Damore after the incident. A google-wide “walkout” to protest the memo would have been an awkward disaster unless every single person walked out.

    Google has the luxury of creating enforceable policies that prohibit certain discussions. Schools do too, but to a much lesser degree. Schools can’t stop their students from discussing things like abortion, gun control, the wall, and religion, but they can avoid drawing a school sanctioned line in the sand and asking students to pick a side.

    As an aside, I think it’s just kind of obvious that schools can’t sanction political protests because ultimately, the school will be unable (and sometimes unwilling) to sanction them all. Then you get lawsuits. Most people aren’t willing to sacrifice school days for this, and for good reason. Many of the classes I took in HS, especially history, were unable to cover the whole syllabus in a year/semester

  24. 22
    RonF says:

    Under normal circumstances likely not, for understandable reasons. But in this case with the concept of having armed teachers and other personnel present in schools being the focus of much debate, prompted by the President’s remarks, I think it bears scrutiny. The contrast between what happened in Parkview and what happened in Maryland, and especially why, should be a topic of discussion on all the news media, but it’s not.

    What I’d actually like to see is people like my Senators (Durbin and Duckworth) explain how the civil rights restrictions they are proposing would actually prevent the shootings we have seen. They both have Facebook pages that constantly push for such, but when I ask the question I never get a response.

  25. 23
    RonF says:

    That’s horrible about that poor girl.

    With regards to the free speech/school protest issue I’ve seen a survey that claims some interesting results. Note that you can click through the above link to a NYT page that in turn links through to the actual polling organization and it’s results. From the link cited above:

    Majorities of students polled said they supported both free speech and “inclusion and diversity.” When asked which was more important, 53 percent said inclusion and diversity and only 46 percent said free speech.

    What I found most striking — the numbers that stood out for me — was the difference between men and women. Among men, 61 percent favored free speech. But only 35 percent of women did so. That’s a result I certainly hadn’t expected.

    That number is of particular concern, because women are now a majority of college and university students. They appear to be a preponderance of the campus administrators who enforce schools’ speech and sexual assault codes, at a time when administrators outnumber teachers in higher education.

    It is certainly true that there are very vocal groups on American campuses who claim that certain kinds of speech that they think disfavors groups they claim are oppressed is harmful to or even equivalent to violence against such groups. So those who hold that diversity is more important that free speech are probably going to be those who don’t just protest such speech but actively seek to block it. Which, IMNSHO is harmful. For one thing, an at least perceived refusal of campus administrators to actively defend free speech harms the ability of public educational institutions to obtain more funding from the legislature and electorate. I can imagine that you might not favor the spin that the author of the above article puts on the survey results but I still think it’s worth reading, as well as reading the Times’ article and the actual survey itself.

  26. 24
    Ampersand says:

    But in this case with the concept of having armed teachers and other personnel present in schools being the focus of much debate, prompted by the President’s remarks, I think it bears scrutiny. The contrast between what happened in Parkview and what happened in Maryland, and especially why, should be a topic of discussion on all the news media, but it’s not.

    In that case, do you also think the three recent cases of teachers inappropriately shooting guns in school – in one case causing minor injuries to a student – should also be getting more coverage?

    As for “why” things were different, that’s very speculative. I think that one was a case of a mass shooter intending to murder as many people as he could; the other was a case of an ex-boyfriend intending to murder his girlfriend. Because of this difference in their goals, they used different strategies and different weapons.

    Sadly, both shooters succeeded in their goals.

    The “good guy with the gun” may have made a difference in Maryland (although that’s very speculative; it requires assuming that, after accomplishing his goal of killing his ex girlfriend, the shooter would have then decided to go on a mass shooting spree, even though there’s no evidence that I know of that that was ever his goal). But honestly, it seems plausible that the other factors are the reason the events were so different.

    It’s not like there aren’t cases of mass shooters encountering or trading shots with “good guys with guns” and still murdering numerous people. There are several examples of this; it’s just that in those cases, mass shootings weren’t prevented, so the right doesn’t talk about those cases.

  27. 25
    Kate says:

    As for “why” things were different, that’s very speculative.

    Actually, the article I link to @18 said it wasn’t clear whether the shooter was in fact killed by the guard, or if he took his own life. I don’t know if that question has been resolved yet.

  28. 26
    Kate says:

    What I’d actually like to see is people like my Senators (Durbin and Duckworth) explain how the civil rights restrictions they are proposing would actually prevent the shootings we have seen. They both have Facebook pages that constantly push for such, but when I ask the question I never get a response.

    Demanding such evidence is pretty rich coming from the side that has made it illegal to spend federal funds to reasearch gun violence. This means, unfortunately, that most studies are done by organisations that are for gun safety legislation.
    Nonetheless, there are strong indications that state level laws reguarding comprehensive background checks, waiting periods, confiscating the guns of people who have restraining order for domestic violence all contribute to keeping gun violence in those states lower than it would be without such rules in effect, without meaningfully impacting the civil rights of law abiding citizens.
    “In states that require background checks for all handguns sales, there are 47% fewer women shot to death by intimate partners, 47% fewer suicides by gun and 53% fewer law enforcement officers shot and killed in the line of duty.” https://etresearch.wpengine.com/background-checks-reduce-gun-violence-and-save-lives/ These numbers would probably be even more significant if these policies were taken nationwide, because many of the gun crimes committed in the states with comprehensive background checks are committed with guns purchased in states that do not require such checks.
    “American women living in states with high rates of gun ownership are more likely to be shot and killed by someone they know than those residing in states with fewer firearms, a new study finds.” http://www.wfmj.com/story/31082682/more-women-killed-by-someone-they-know-in-states-with-high-gun-rates The fact that this same study did not find a statistically significant effect with men is an indication of its impartiality. On the other hand, women who own guns are also more likely to be murdered than women who don’t own a gun. “One landmark study out of California analyzed six years of data from 1991 to 1996 and concluded that women who owned a gun died by firearm homicide at twice the rates of women who did not. (In the same study, the authors found that female gun owners were 15 times as likely to die of firearm suicide as women without guns.)” https://www.thetrace.org/2016/08/15-facts-that-show-how-guns-make-domestic-violence-even-deadlier/
    “We found that in 57 percent of mass shootings, the shooter targeted either a family member or an intimate partner. According to HuffPost’s analysis, 64 percent of mass shooting victims were women and children. That’s startling, since women typically make up only 15 percent of total gun violence homicide victims, and children only 7 percent.” https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/mass-shootings-domestic-violence-women_us_55d3806ce4b07addcb44542a So, taking guns away from known domestic abusers is likely to have a strong impact on mass shootings as well.

  29. 27
    Jokuvaan says:

    Assault rifles actually are somewhat regulated in the US as assault rifles made after 1986 are banned and all pre-1986 automatic weapons must be registered with the ATF and require extensive background checks before private citizens may own them.

  30. 28
    Kate says:

    After a federal assault weapon ban lapsed in 2004, only seven states and the District of Columbia still have a continuing ban on such firearms.

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/feb/16/americans-age-to-buy-ar15-assault-rifle-mass-shootings

  31. 29
    Jokuvaan says:

    After a federal assault weapon ban lapsed in 2004, only seven states and the District of Columbia still have a continuing ban on such firearms.

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/feb/16/americans-age-to-buy-ar15-assault-rifle-mass-shootings

    The last AR-15 assault rifles were made in the 60:s.
    M16 is a assault rifle.

  32. 30
    Grace Annam says:

    Kate, what Jokuvaan is doing, here, is using the technical definition of “assault rifle”, which is a lightweight rifle firing smaller rounds (for a rifle), capable of both fully automatic and semiautomatic action. In fully automatic mode, you hold the trigger back and the rifle puts bullets downrange until you stop holding the trigger back, run out of ammunition, or the weapon malfunctions. In semiautomatic mode, one pull of the trigger gets you one bullet downrange.

    This is, of course, not what “assault rifle” means in the popular consciousness, as Jokuvaan knows perfectly well. In popular use, and therefore political use, “assault rifle” means any semiautomatic rifle on the smaller side which looks kinda military-ish.

    The popular understanding annoys many people with a more technical understanding of firearms, especially those who don’t understand how language works.

    In short, Jokuvaan would seem to be toying, rather than trying to add something substantive.

    Grace

  33. 31
    Harlequin says:

    To be slightly more hopeful, this time we heard a lot about the victims and survivors and very little about the shooter–which has been recommended for the media for a long time, but rarely followed in the past. Publicity for the shooter seems to be a thing that inspires copycats, so reducing it is a possible way to reduce mass shootings without any interventions on guns at all.

    (We should also be intervening on guns.)

  34. 32
    Jokuvaan says:

    This is, of course, not what “assault rifle” means in the popular consciousness, as Jokuvaan knows perfectly well.

    Actually I don’t follow this “popular consciousness” of yours (Whatever that means.) that much nor can I read minds.
    Nor does it change the objective meaning of statements involving assault rifles.

    “In popular use, and therefore political use, “assault rifle” means any semiautomatic rifle on the smaller side which looks kinda military-ish.”

    Nope. As far as legislation goes a assault rifle is still a assault rifle and this term is not just in US use unlike say assault weapon.

    “The popular understanding annoys many people with a more technical understanding of firearms, especially those who don’t understand how language works.”

    Then please do tell what is the new word for assault rifles in this newspeak of yours?
    Storm rifle as by the original sturmgewehr ?

    In short, Jokuvaan would seem to be toying, rather than trying to add something substantive.

    Just pointing out that assault rifles are not as easily available as some people seem to think.

    If you want something substantive you could look at how other countries have reduced such incidents and this does not include just gun regulation which helps only until the point where it becomes easier to obtain a gun illegally which won’t be too difficult in a country full of unregistered firearms.

  35. 33
    Jeffrey Gandee says:

    The popular understanding annoys many people with a more technical understanding of firearms, especially those who don’t understand how language works.

    Grace, I get your point, but this lack of understanding of how firearms work, and the need for unambiguous clear language annoys people who understand how the law works. The definition of assault rifle needs to be clear, not “scary looking gun.” Previous attempts at outlawing scary looking rifles have been ineffective and pointless. What’s the point of outlawing cosmetic features like barrel shrouds and folding stocks? Most people just don’t understand that many .223 hunting rifles have the exact same fire power as an AR, so why should anyone care about their proposed solutions?

    This leads me to my own personal annoyance concerning the gun debate in America. I may be crazy, but I think gun control advocates obsess over assault rifles in a way that harms their stated goals. Assault rifles can kill a whole bunch of people at once in a horrific attack, but hand-guns are the murder weapon of choice everywhere. Again, I may be crazy, but I actually think the 2A protects the right to own a high power rifle more so than it protects the right to own a 9mm semi-auto pistol. Only only one of these is suitable for militia service, the other is suitable for carrying discretely.

    Legalizing most rifles and shotguns, while banning handguns would satisfy the hunters, the “we may need to water the liberty tree” types, and the people concerned about home defense (shot guns are decent at this, and I’ve twice been in a situation where the sound of reloading a shot-gun sent a home invader scurrying).

    This idea won’t stop mass shooting with rifles, but I’m not sure why those kinds of killings should be prioritized. I think most gun rights advocates would consider my proposal unnacceptable. Many people just enjoy firing hand-guns and won’t give them up. There would probably need to be some sort of compromise, like further protection of rifle-ownership rights, but I’m not sure what that would look like.

  36. 34
    Grace Annam says:

    Jokuvaan:

    Nope. As far as legislation goes a assault rifle is still a assault rifle and this term is not just in US use unlike say assault weapon.

    As far as I am aware, legislation in the US has never regulated “assault rifles” without defining the term for purposes of the legislation, precisely because the thing they wished to regulate was a hard-to-define subset of lightweight semiautomatic rifles and not assault rifles as professionals use the term. Assault rifles as weapons capable of fully automatic fire have, of course, been federally regulated since 1934.

    So, while you’re free to maintain the technical definition, in current political conversation that’s as useful as, for instance, pointing out that there is no crime of “Rape” in New Hampshire. It’s true, but it’s beside the point, because what many other jurisdictions call “rape”, NH calls “Felonious Sexual Assault” or “Aggravated Felonious Sexual Assault”.

    Non-technical people don’t give a damn about how the gun works. They just want to ban the guns which people keep using to murder lots of children, in the hope that fewer children will then be murdered. It’s a facially compelling argument. They call them assault weapons because that’s what they look like, and because the automatic/semiautomatic distinction, when it comes to shooting people in classrooms, is merely technical. (I’ve trained with selective fire weapons and taught their use; if you know your basics, you can kill just as many people just as fast with a semiauto, and your hit ratio will be higher and you won’t run out of ammunition as fast.) So people who don’t own guns or use them say, “We need to ban semiautomatic guns!” And gun owners respond, “You can’t do that! We use them for lots of lawful purposes!” And the the people who don’t own guns respond, “Fine! Then ban those ones which people keep using to murder lots of children! The AR-whatevers, the assault weapon thingies!” And the gun owners respond, “Technically, those aren’t assault weapons.” And the people who don’t own guns respond, “Don’t care! You technical gun people haven’t come up with a better name for this class of weapons which is apparently hard to define accurately but which we fear, and so we’re going to define them as best we can, call them assault weapons in the legislation, and make them illegal so people can’t have them to murder bunches of children!”

    That’s how actual living language works: people adapt it to their purpose.

    That facially-compelling argument may even be right, in the long run. Because the issue is not technical; it’s cultural. A shooter COULD do more damage with a semiautomatic shotgun, a bandolier of shells, and a few afternoons of practice with topping off the magazine while moving. But such weapons don’t have a presence in the public consciousness. Ban semiautomatic rifles entirely, so that you can’t be seen shooting one at the local range and can’t transport it without worrying about getting stopped for a tailllight out, and after a few years access will diminish for most people, especially young adults. Will mass murderers then switch to semiautomatic shotguns? I don’t know, but I suspect not; they’re not what’s used in the military (much) and not what’s glorified by various media.

    But the issue is cultural; the country already had many, many lightweight semiautos in public hands prior to the 1990s, and we weren’t seeing then what we’re seeing now. So if we want to fix the problem, technical arguments seem to me to miss the point.

    Jeffrey Gandee:

    The definition of assault rifle needs to be clear, not “scary looking gun.” Previous attempts at outlawing scary looking rifles have been ineffective and pointless. What’s the point of outlawing cosmetic features like barrel shrouds and folding stocks? Most people just don’t understand that many .223 hunting rifles have the exact same fire power as an AR, so why should anyone care about their proposed solutions?

    I agree; that’s why laws which seek to regulate “assault rifles” as the term is popularly understood need to define the term in a way which include semiautomatic-only actions.

    I know a lot of hunters, and no one I know hunts with a .223, except perhaps as a varmint gun (and for that they tend to choose a shotgun or something smaller than .223). Most hunters I know use heavier calibers, precisely because they’re better at killing things.

    (For those whom this puzzles: Yes, .223 is certainly a lethal round, but like all ammunition it’s a compromise and in .223 the compromise is in favor of a lightweight weapon and being able to carry lots of ammunition, such that people using them can assault entrenched positions, hence the name “assault rifle”. Hunters, by contrast, don’t have to carry much ammunition (their usual limit is the weight of the rifle or the felt recoil), and so they choose heavier, more powerful rounds, rounds more likely to kill an animal with one shot.)

    So, yeah, it’s hard to regulate lightweight semiautomatic weapons without regulating the best hunting tools. That’s why a lot of attempts focus on magazine capacity.

    Jeffrey Gandee:

    This leads me to my own personal annoyance concerning the gun debate in America. I may be crazy, but I think gun control advocates obsess over assault rifles in a way that harms their stated goals. Assault rifles can kill a whole bunch of people at once in a horrific attack, but hand-guns are the murder weapon of choice everywhere. Again, I may be crazy, but I actually think the 2A protects the right to own a high power rifle more so than it protects the right to own a 9mm semi-auto pistol. Only only one of these is suitable for militia service, the other is suitable for carrying discretely.

    I think the Second Amendment covers both. But I think that the strategy of focusing on assault rifles is about to pay off for advocates of gun control. We’re probably at a tipping point.

    Frankly, as ardent a Second Amendment supporter as I am and have been (“armed gays don’t get bashed” and all that), I have pretty much given up on this issue. The debate is too polarized for a moderate solution; the end result is going to slap to one side or the other like a spring switch. But more important, all the parties which support Second Amendment rights also fought hard against marriage equality, and LGBT rights in housing and employment, and a sensible immigration system, and harm reduction in drug policy, and bodily autonomy for people who can get pregnant, and subsidized birth control even when it was shown to reduce the rate of abortion, and on and on and on. If we can move toward the rest by acceding to restrictions on gun ownership, that’s a compromise I can swallow. I won’t like the taste of it, but I’ll be able to get it down and on balance I’ll argue that it’s better for us in the long run.

    So, if people who support the Second Amendment would like to get their heads out of their asses and get our house in order such that they can advocate for good public policy on other issues, and such that I don’t keep hearing casual misogyny, racism and transphobia when I go to the range, that would be just lovely. Maybe we could have had a shot at hanging onto our right to be armed.

    But I think that ship is sinking, now, and fast.

    Grace

  37. 35
    Jake Squid says:

    The debate is too polarized for a moderate solution; the end result is going to slap to one side or the other like a spring switch.

    Well, yes. That process was started in the 70s and the spring effectively sprung in the 80s and 90s when SCOTUS redefined the 2nd so that the first clause no longer existed and with the NRA’s advocacy it became nigh impossible to have any sort of moderate gun control measures pass.

    But I’m the guy who wants all guns gone, so the spring switch is probably the best I can hope for. But for everybody in the middle, it’s sure got to suck.

  38. 36
    Kate says:

    The debate is too polarized for a moderate solution; the end result is going to slap to one side or the other like a spring switch.

    I really don’t think this is true. Lifting the ban on federal funding of studies of gun violence, comprehensive background checks, three day waiting periods, raising the age at which one can purchase a gun to 21…these are all proposals I’ve seen that seem pretty moderate to me. The most extreme proposals I’ve heard of are bans which narrowly target weapons (AR-15’s) and accessories (bump stocks, high capacity magazines) that have been used in mass shootings. They also, to the best of my knowledge, grandfather guns people already own. No one is proposing any extreme anti-gun solution, like what is in place in Australia.

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